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Case study - Oxford Innovation (Access to Finance)

Updated: Jul 31, 2022

Heather Coupland, Oxford Innovation.  Better online meetings

Reflections from Heather Coupland, Programme Delivery Manager who chairs the team meetings.

What problems were you trying to address with your video meetings?

What prompted me to want to change the situation was the fact that most often in video meetings I would be facing a screen full of circles and not people. And so I couldn't feel whether they were engaged with me, whether they were listening, whether they were taking part, whether they'd actually gone off to make a cup of tea or even if they were there at all. There was no real engagement and I often just felt like I was talking to a blank screen - talking to myself until somebody would eventually say something and then I would think oh, they are there.

What difference has using the hand signals made?

The difference using the hand signals makes is that now everyone has a reason to have their video switched on so I can see everybody. They can all see each other. We can all signal each other to acknowledge that we may agree or disagree or you love what's being said, or communicate yes that's true for me too.

What difference has it made to you as the meeting leader/chair?

My experience so far is that it has been really encouraging to see members of the team using the meeting signals and joining in. The difference it's made to me is that I can see everybody. I can feel everybody connecting with each other. It feels like I'm not alone in the meeting. It feels like I am with my team.

How do the signals help the conversation flow?

We're actually able to communicate without talking over each other and I think that's the biggest issue in a meeting now on Zoom - when do you speak. Paul taught us the team chairing and passing technique, so the fact that we can pass the conversation to each other. We can engage with each other without actually having to open our mouths and disrupt the person, which makes a massive difference.

Did the team take to using the hand signals straight away?

I think initially people felt it might be a bit flowery and something that they didn't really want to get involved in. But after a few minutes on the call they all started to join in and I think that by the end of the call everybody was really enjoying it. Everybody was using the signals without any prodding or pushing from me, they had just taken it on themselves. So I've not had to be the one encouraging it, they've actually been encouraging each other, and using it, which is great


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